Culture Crash 18-25: A new Spider-Man movie worth getting excited for

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Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine American culture.  What’s new and old in books, film, and entertainment.

Summer is the time of year when blockbusters are released and when the trailers for the fall slate of movies begin coming in earnest. Some recent highlights include the trailers for Steve McQueen’s Widows and Bradley Cooper’s remake of A Star Is Born. One preview  that stood out to me and many others is the trailer for the forthcoming animated film, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

I know what you’re thinking- another Spider-Man story? The answer is yes, but you should be very excited. This ain’t your father’s Spider-Man, and that’s a good thing. Into the Spider-Verse will focus not on Peter Parker’s Spiderman, but Miles Morales’s.

If you’re not familiar, Morales is half-black, half-Latino and also, of course, becomes part spider. His 2011 debut was met with the predictable cries that all diversity is a publicity stunyt, but forget about the whiny internet trolls, because diverse storytelling is good storytelling and on merit, Morales is an incredible character.

In addition to sharing most of Parker’s abilities, Morales can also totally camouflage himself and has a special tool called his venom strike, allowing him to temporarily paralyze his foes. Additionally, yeah, he’s a minority Spider-Man, and that’s awesome. Young black children and Latino children deserve representation, and Morales gives them a fresh, young character to cherish… and he offers all of us a nice breath of fresh air from the overly familiar, oft-retread story of Peter Parker.

Into The Spider-Verse looks visually stunning as well, employing a signature comic-book look in its animation style that isn’t trying to look as real as possible. It’s animated… and that’s what can make it great. Since the Marvel Cinematic Universe hit its full stride with The Avengers in 2012, superhero movies have grown to look more and more bland. Into the Spider-Verse looks like it will show us what’s possible when studios stop worrying about earning tax breaks by filming in Atlanta or saving money by shooting on sound stages, and instead create with their imaginations totally unleashed.

Miles Morales will swing into theaters in Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse this December, but the movie’s trailer is online now, and it’s worth seeking out.

I’m Evan Rook.

Coming Up On Viewpoints Show 18-25

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Domestic Violence: How It Happens and How to Stop It

Domestic abuse is something many women and men will experience in their lives. We talk to two psychologists familiar with the subject about what victims can do to remove themselves from the abuse and how being a witness to or a victim of abuse affects the intimate relationship, children, and the family dynamic.

How Comedy Became King

Comedy is all around us: all over social media, in advertisements, even on church signs. Former Jeopardy champion Ken Jennings says that while it can be fun, it does come at a cost when jokes are made in arenas where they’re inappropriate. We discuss the history and impact of jokes on our culture.

Culture Crash: A new Spider-Man movie worth getting excited for

Spider-Man movies have been done and redone several times now, but a new animated movie about the web-slinger is coming out in December, and it will finally tell the story from a fresh perspective.

Culture Crash 18-24: What’s a comedy award to do when no books are funny?

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Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine American culture.  What’s new and old in books, film, and entertainment.

Since the year 2000, the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction has been given to what a panel of literature judges in the UK deem to be the funniest book of the year. The award is a big bottle of champagne, over 50 volumes of comedy writing, and the prestige of having a pig named after your novel. While the prize is silly, the competition is fierce. Since the award’s inception, it has been given to notable titles like Salmon Fishing in the Yemen and Bridget Jones’s Baby: The Diaries. Some years, the competition has been incredibly stiff, like in 2003 when Yann Martel’s novel Life of Pi was named as a finalist but did not win.

This year, the judges ran into a different problem. According to David Campbell, a publisher and one of the judges for the prize, none of the submissions made the panel laugh. He explained that because none of the books were deemed worthy, he and his fellow judges quote “decided to withhold the prize this year to maintain the extremely high standards of comic fiction.”

While it is seemingly bad news that no books published in a year span were deemed worthy of a comedy prize, there is some good news: The judges announced they will be rolling this year’s prize over to next year. So aspiring comedy writers, take note: You have several months to get a hilarious manuscript published to have a shot at two bottles of champagne and maybe they’ll even agree to name not one but two pigs after your novel.

I’m Evan Rook.

Coming Up On Viewpoints Show 18-24

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Creating Better Teams

Teamwork is seen as a premium in our culture. We believe that two is better than one. But entrepreneur and author Shane Snow says that we often don’t use our groups and teams to their fullest potential. He gives us the science behind why, and how we can improve our communities.

The Value of Our Public Libraries

Public libraries have existed for generations and have long been one of our most cherished community services. But with budget cuts has come a pinch on library staff and technology centers. Our guests discuss the value libraries still bring and why we should support these institutions of our citizenry.

Culture Crash: What’s a comedy award to do when no books are funny?

The Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize is given annually to what a panel of judges deem to be the funniest book of the year. But this year, the judges hit a snag: they didn’t think any of them were funny.

Culture Crash 18-23: 4 Books to Read This Summer

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Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine American culture.  What’s new and old in books, film, and entertainment.

Summer is finally here, and if you’re like me, that means it’s time to get to business on that reading list. I’ve always found that my favorite entertainment source in the summer is to go read a book in the great outdoors.

Of course, picking the right book can be a challenge, because the last thing any of us want is to be bored by a book. Here are four books I’ve read recently that you may want to seek out this summer.

First up, Dark Matter by Blake Crouch. Crouch is most famous for his Wayward Pines series, but don’t sleep on his 2016 scifi thriller Dark Matter. The book tells the story of a man who is abducted and wakes up in another reality. Using some fascinating science fiction, the book is a non-stop page turner perfect for fans of Black Mirror.

Another science fiction read is Elan Mastai’s romp All Our Wrong Todays. The book is similar to Dark Matter in that it deals with alternate realities, but Mastai’s book tells the story of a man from a different world who stumbles into our reality…and finds it to be underwhelming. The book is less a thriller a more of a comedy.

If science fiction isn’t your thing, Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips tells a heart-pounding story set in a reality all too real. The book centers on a mother and her young child as their afternoon at the zoo becomes a nightmare after they hear gunshots ring out. The reader is swept along as the two of them try to run, hide, and survive. Set all in one day, Fierce Kingdom’s 290 pages can even be read in one sitting.

And finally, if you are interested in history, you may want to check out The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore. The book tells a dramatized version of true story with national significance: the race to illuminate America between Thomas Edison, George Westinghouse, and the rouge Nikola Tesla. The book paints a wonderful picture of days since past and may just ignite a passion in you to get to the bottom of who really deserves the credit for the incandescent lightbulb.

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch, All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai, Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips, and The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore are all available now. For links to more information about all three, visit Viewpoints Online dot net… and when you finish them, feel free to let us know your thoughts on Twitter at Viewpoints Radio.

I’m Evan Rook.

Coming Up On Viewpoints 18-23

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Farming in Cities

Tending to crops is typically something that brings the rolling fields of rural America to mind. We talk to two experts about the growing trend of urban farming, and how cities have implemented programs that not only help feed their communities, but can also teach discipline and offer employment.

Weather: Past and Future

Most of us have been caught in a bad storm or seen some big hail.  We talk to a weather expert and historian about some of the notable weather of the past and a look into the climate of the future.

Culture Crash: 4 Books to Read This Summer

It’s summer, which is a great time to do some reading. We discuss four books that will keep you turning those pages all summer long.

Culture Crash 18-22: Watching Film Classics in a Streaming World

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Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine American culture.  What’s new and old in books, film, and entertainment.

Streaming movies and television are all the rage. You’ve heard me discuss Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime on Culture Crash before…and you’ve almost definitely gotten caught up in a binge-watch yourself. For countless Americans these platforms are their go-tos for entertainment.

Netflix recently announced their first 33 original films of the year amassed 300 million streams by 80 million accounts. Clearly, it’s a popular way to watch a movie. But you also may have noticed streaming platform’s backlogs have grown scarcer. Netflix and Amazon have less interest in buying the rights to stream, say, The Shawshank Redemption or Singin’ in the Rain and more interest in getting you to watch their original movies, like Mudbound or The Big Sick.

And that can become a problem. If these companies are where people go to watch movies and they are carrying fewer of the old classics of the medium, then where will people learn to appreciate older cinema? How can we watch Lauren Bacall or Gene Kelly? Well, luckily there are options made to fulfill just this need.

The most perfect solution is to get a subscription to FilmStruck. At $6.99 per month, Film Struck allows users to watch classics like The Maltese Falcon, A Streetcar Named Desire, and Lawrence of Arabia. Of course, this option has its obvious downfall: another monthly fee to go with your Netflix and Hulu accounts? Yikes.

For those inclined to watch some of these hallmarks of cinema but are unwilling to go so far as to pay another monthly bill, there is always the local library. Most libraries offer DVD for no charge with your library card and their catalogs are typically full of classics.

Streaming video is here to stay, but there’s no reason that should mean we feel obligated to watch Netflix’s Mute before we ever check out what all the fuss is about with Ben-Hur even if that means shelling out an extra $7 per month or having to figure out where that old library card is hiding.

I’m Evan Rook.